The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles name for philanthropist Eli Broad, who financed the building which houses the art collection. The museum opened in September 2015 to rave reviews and popularity especially among young adults. Although it’s free to anyone who acquires tickets from their website, the wait ranges eight to twelve weeks making it an easy thing to brag to your friends about when you do score tickets. Don’t fee like waiting weeks? You can wait hours in line and try to get in on the same day ticketing at the venue. (Good luck!)
But what is art? If art is a construct, it makes it difficult to define. That is the beautiful thing about it. There is no right or wrong in art. It’s all opinion. What I may like, you may not. What may move you to tears may bore me to tears. There is no judgement. You can’t be ridiculed or defeated for your thoughts. Art doesn’t provide answers, just discussion.
Now, I’ve visited The Broad twice since it opened and I’ve come to discover something about myself. I love portraits. It doesn’t matter the style but there is something that I connect with when it comes to visuals of other people. It gives me the opportunity to create entire lives in my head. I imagine who they took to prom, their first time experiencing death, or what makes them passionate. Chuck Close is known as much for his detailed representation of the human face as for his subsequent deconstruction of it. Close uses head-on portraits as his templates, exploring portraiture and his subjects through a variety of drawing and painterly techniques.
Chuck Close. United States, 1940. John, 1971-1972. Acrylic on gessoed canvas.
This isn’t a photo. Chuck Close drew this with his hands. You can see every hair in his beard, the wrinkles in his forehead, and the history in his eyes. I can paint my own picture just by looking at the shirt he’s wearing, his haircut, and glasses. There is a story behind every photo and you as the audience can make it up. You can choose to be grabbed by something and examine how it makes you feel or what it makes you believe.
John Currin. United States, 1962. Old Couple, 1993. Oil on canvas.
Although not photo realistic, stories radiate off this piece of work. I find this piece similar to animation. The realism is further away but the ability to connect is in things we simply recognize. The way this old woman is clinging to him may resemble a friend’s parents or a book whose characters hold one another like that. The difference in expression they hold may resemble a time where you went to an unenjoyable cooking class that you’re partner raved about. A style, or part of a piece can be something you love. Art isn’t all or nothing.
This piece is a little different than anything else in The Broad. Ragnar Kjartansson is the Icelandic artist behind The Visitors. The Visitors is a nine screen installation that was filmed at the historic Rokeby farm in upstate New York. Kjartansson invited a group of friends to stay with him for a week at the ethereal, yet decrepit estate, culminating in an ambitious performance. Running for over an hour, The Visitors was produced in one take, recording each musician’s performance simultaneously in different rooms of the mansion. Kjartansson himself plays much of his rendition in a bathtub. Watching all nine musicians play this hour long song culminating in a canon of booming finale (literally) is something of magic. Each artist brings their own attributes to the frame, instrument and song that could never be replicated the same way again. This wraps its arms around you and sweeps you away like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years away
The last portrait I found fascinating was myself. Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored room is a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. Stepping into this room, silence chilled through the chamber. It was just me staring into infinity. After the initial strike of awe, this room allowed immense self reflection. Look at how small we are among all these bright stars. This was a friendly reminder that we are all a blip when it comes to infinity. We are so small and non-important that the least we can do is believe in ourselves and be kind to others.
That’s what art does. Art allows you to react to things in ways you never dreamed of. It takes you on rollercoasters of emotions, thoughts, and ideas. And it’s unique to the individual. If you didn’t like these pieces or how I reacted, go check out The Broad for yourself. Go discover what art changes you. And to see a few more selections check out the images below: